Clayton Kershaw campaigned heavily for the Dodgers to keep A.J. Ellis amid rumors that he might be a non-tender candidate after hitting just .191 last season. They listened, retaining Ellis for $4.25 million even after acquiring young catcher Yasmani Grandal from the Padres.
It’s unclear what type of time-sharing arrangement the two catchers will have this season, but manager Don Mattingly made it clear that Ellis will not serve as Kershaw’s personal catcher.
When asked about that, Kershaw told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com that he “loves to throw to A.J.” but it’s “Donnie’s call.”
Grandal is a switch-hitter and Ellis is a right-handed hitter, so a straight-up platoon could work and would give Grandal about two-thirds of the playing time behind the plate. Whatever the case, after averaging 433 plate appearances per season from 2012-2014 Ellis is in line for a major reduction.
Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.
It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.
While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.
If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.